Black Veil Brides' D.I.Y. viral hit "Knives and Pens" seemed to come out of nowhere. And then, suddenly, the video—and the Black Veil Brides—were everywhere.
"Knives and Pens" racked up more than 29 million views, catapulting the young band to fame overnight. In short order, Black Veil Brides scored an indie deal for their debut, We Stitch These Wounds, which caught both the ears and the imaginations of a legion of rock fans craving the fresh and exciting.
We Stitch These Wounds debuted in the Top 40 of the Billboard 200 and No. 1 on the magazine's Independent chart, and its songs became anthems. The album has sold more than 100,000 copies worldwide.
Fresh from headlining Alternative Press magazine's AP Tour and winning a Revolver Golden Gods Award for Best New Band, Black Veil Brides are back with Set the World On Fire, a bold new album recorded with producer Josh Abraham (Linkin Park, Korn, Mastodon) that shows the band's musical evolution.
"The influence for Set the World on Fire was very much shaped by fan reaction to the first record," vocalist Andy Biersack explains. "Ultimately, the first record was a culmination of all our 20 years of experience on Earth. We wrote about what we knew, and over the last year we've seen so much and done so much, meeting people and hearing their stories. It all came naturally; it's not an attempt to try to outdo our first record, but we wanted to show how we had naturally grown as a band and as songwriters."
Jinxx, Jake Pitts and Ashley Purdy—better known as the axe-wielding threesome of Black Veil Brides—sat down with the Monitor to talk about their new album, and of course, their Peavey gear.
Your debut album came out of nowhere and sold really well, and now your new record, Set the World on Fire, just debuted in the Billboard Top 20. Has the success hit home?
Jinxx: It's a dream come true. We're doing it the way we want to do it. A lot of it was online networking, just being accessible to the fans and showing how much we appreciate their support. We have a scene of people with common interests and it became an army over time. It was all DIY at first. We didn't know what to expect, but the first week of sales blew us away.
Ashley: We have a dedicated and strong fan base. We have something we believe in; it's genuine and honest. Fans get behind it. There's a community, like back in the punk scene. I don't feel anything has changed. We do it because we love to do it, and that's not going to change.
Jake: Eveything is moving so fast. I joined the band in November 2009. I was playing in a band with C.C. and Jinxx before Black Veil Brides, and they asked me to help write the first record. I did one song, and they asked if I could go on tour in two weeks! That was it.
Ashley: The whole band has evolved. In the beginning, the band was just a concept, an idea; it didn't come into fruition until this past year. The first record was stuff that we had catalogued, just from us. Our first tour was done in a SUV and a U-Haul, and that's the stuff that made us into what we are now. This [album] is a lot more focused, and we grew in every area.
Who are your main influences, and how has your playing evolved in Black Veil Brides?
Jake: I would say I've definitely been influenced by Synyster Gates of Avenged Sevenfold, but my favorite is Paul Gilbert. I got into their techniques. I've always loved dual-lead harmonies, like The Scorpions used to do. In the '90s, guitar solos weren't cool. Some bands are doing more now but not many. Avenged is one of the only big bands who do solos.
Jinxx: I actually played in a few punk bands growing up, listening to The Misfits and everything. But most of my influence is early Metallica and Randy Rhodes. That probably got me into classical music. I always found it fascinating that [Rhodes] was into that, and he sounded so different from everyone else. For me the '90s were kind of a bummer because I picked up the guitar early on and learned the Rhodes and Hammett solos, and that was fun. Grunge made that obsolete, and it was kinda boring for me. Now's the time to bring that back.
It's been said that you have your whole life to make your debut album, and six months to make your second. Was that the case with Black Veil Brides?
Ashley: That was totally true, although I feel like the second was definitely more focused. We had more vision. The material for the first wasn't as focused. We have such a big concept, so this time we had more time to hone what we do. We finished it in a couple of months.
Jinxx: On We Stitch These Wounds, musically, Jake and I drew that together in about a month. We wrote like crazy every day and demoed it. We're pretty happy with the way it turned out. Jake and I played a lot of the material together in a band before Black Veil Brides. We had a lot of material from that and it fit the feel of where we wanted to go—intricate, heavy, more solos, more intense than the first record.
Black Veil Brides also carry on the metal tradition of dueling guitars. Jake and Jinxx, do you write your parts as a two-guitar team?
Jinxx: It's kind of weird, like we share a brain, almost. He'll write a riff and jam it out, and I'll hear that and start playing something that goes with it, maybe a chorus or bridge idea.
Jake: I do most of the solos, and Jinxx will switch back and forth a bit. There are times when he'll have an idea and I'll kind of give him some direction, and he'll do the same with me. The chemistry is unbelievable. I've never had that with any guitar player.
Jinxx: We just started messing around with another new song in rehearsal. Today we're going to lay down that idea for the next record. We finish each other's sentences and it happens spontaneously. We're a good team.
Jinxx, you also play violin on the new record. How did that happen?
Jinxx: I started playing music on guitar, but the majority of my musical training came when I picked up the violin and started playing in orchestras. I learned everything about harmony and theory by listening to the instruments around me—counterpoint, and different melodies working together to create harmony. I just plugged that into guitar playing.
A couple of songs on the first record have violin, and there's a song on the new record, "The Savior," which started as an acoustic track that I was writing on my own, with a dark feel to it. I went in the studio to track it and wrote a violin part, and that made it pretty epic and symphonic. It starts out simple and grows into something big at the end with a crescendo. Being able to do that adds another dimension to the band.
What Peavey gear are you using now?
Ashley: I love the VB-2™ and VB-3™ [tube bass amps], but the Tour 700™ is my mainstay. My tone is about dirty rock & roll, and I get a dirty, warm tone out of that head. I was able to find that old-school, growling rock tone. Even our sound guy was trying to punch it up like most metal bands, but I was like, no, keep it low. You have to feel the bass. It's all about groove.
Jinxx: I have a 6505® and a 6505+. Generally I concentrate on playing rhythm live, and I switch between clean and lead on two songs. The 6505 is perfect for that. They're great amps. They're perfect for the tone we're looking for.
Jake: I'm using the 6505+. I was looking for a heavy, extreme metal amp, and I heard the 6505 series was pretty great. You barely have to do anything to get a great tone.
Jinxx: The first time we tried them, we plugged in and didn't have to fiddle with the knobs. It sounded great. With these amps, everything cuts through so clearly. Jake and I do a lot of dual leads, and at soundcheck we'll jam some thirds and harmonies, and we both cut through. We never get buried in the mix. M